MV Italia

GRT 20,223
Length 609 Feet
Breadth 78 Feet

Built by Blohm & Voss of Hamburg in 1928 for Swedish American Line (SAL) she was named “Kungsholm”. She ran on the North Atlantic route between Europe and North America in the 1930’s.

She was requisitioned by the US Government during World War II and renamed “John Ericsson”. During the war she operated as a troop carrier and took part in the invasion of Normandy on D-Day in 1944.

Sold to Home Lines in 1948, she was refitted and renamed “Italia”. She served until 1964 when she was sold to Freeport Bahama Enterprises who renamed her “Imperial Bahama” and used her as a floating hotel.

She was sold for scrap in 1965.

This is a Postcard from Dan in Georgia. Dan is a kindred spirit who loves Ships, Airships Old Aircraft and postcards. He runs the AirShips.Net website dedicated to the Hindenburg and other Zeppelins.

Thanks for the fantastic postcards, Dan. I’ve sent a couple more in reply!

64 Replies to “MV Italia”

  1. My family and I emigrated to the US in November 1954 on the Italia. I was 10 years old at the time so I don’t remember too much. I know at one time I snuck over to first class. We were scheduled to come in May but due to quotas in those days we had to delay till November. We came directly into New York Harbor, because they had closed Ellis Island during the summer. I have menus from every day on board. Would love to hear from anyone who was on the Italia at that time.

  2. Thank you for this page! As part of going through my parents’ effects, I found my mother’s immigration card that shows she came across on the MS Italia on the 16-April to 25-April sailing in 1955.

    I knew they came via Canada, eventually ending up in Milwaukee.

    Will also be looking for passenger manifests at some of the sites suggested. You all have made my day.

  3. I came to Canada on the MS Italia which left Southampton on December 12, 1959. Does anyone remember the terrible Atlantic storm we experienced coming over?

  4. I came over from Southampton England to Halifax and landed on June 29, 1952 on the Italia. The crew was all German and only 12 English speaking passengers. The voyage was rough and much sea sickness. I remember quite a bit of it although I was only 7. My mother was Canadian from Nova Scotia and my father was English. He spent some of the war in Canada with the RAF. Tough times but all is well that ends well.

  5. Looking for manifest for MS Italia’s voyage from Hamburg to New York in 1952, leaving Hamburg near end of March and arriving Halifax 8 April

    Thank you,

    Earle Lockerby

  6. Ulrike Klopfer,

    Sorry for taking almost two years to reply. I had thought that the arrival date in Halifax was June 6th. I don’t suppose that the ship went to NY and then Toronto 2 days later.

  7. My parents and I came to the United States from Germany in 1953. We sailed on the M.S. Italia, leaving Cuxhaven on July 18, 1953 and arriving in New York harbor on July 29, 1953, after stopping at Southampton, LeHavre and Halifax. It was a steamy ,hot day in New York Harbor as we steamed through the Verrazano Narrows and spotted “The Lady” through the mist in the harbor. We docked at Pier 86 and cleared Immigration there. We ended settling in Flushing, New York and I remained there for the next 38 years, with the exception of 4 years that I spent in the U.S. Air Force, three of which I was stationed at Sembach Air Base, Germany. I really enjoyed the trip on the Italia and my dad could always find me below decks, looking into the engine room. I enjoy looking for and finding new pictures of the Italia. I still have our Home Lines tickets, a postcard of the Italia, the passenger list from our trip and a dinner menu, locked in our safety deposit box.

  8. My family took the Italia in December 1959 and yes I remember the terrible crossing. My Dad, an airman in the RCAF, who was being posted from #1 Air Division HQ in Metz, France to his new assignment in Comox, British Columbia recalled being sick the whole trip over. I was 9 at the time and had a great time with my sister and brother exploring the ship and getting under the feet of the harried staff. I am writing a blog on his career ( http://www.garyandmarie.blogspot.com )and found this site while looking for a photo of the ship. Neil, would it be possible to use it? Thanks!

  9. I Imigrated from Bremen, Germany to Montreal , Canada in 1960. Leaving Bremen Cuxhaven August 11, 1960 , I was 19 years old. Still have the original Ticket # W 200873, passenger list and menues. Cost of the one way ticket was US $ 233.50 , I don’t remember much about the interior of the ship. Captain Glaucoma Stabon was in charge. Most passengers boarded in Le Havre France .Farewell Dinner was “Brest of Vermont Turkey August 18, 1960. I have not posted this before.

  10. @John H. Warner:
    I believe I have footage of the very passage you were on.
    I´m currently digitizing it from old 8mm reels. Maybe you´d like to have a look.
    I´ll upload it to my YT-Account “foundvintage8mm”. Check there and leave a comment.
    It will be online within the next days.

    Cheers Jens

  11. My family (Mom, Dad & sister) and I were on the Italia voyage that left from Hamburg on January 10, 1954 destined for New York harbor. The troubled voyage was described in the New York Times on Saturday, January 23, 1954 as follows:
    “ITALIA IN DAY LATE, ICED BY ROUGH SEAS:
    The Home liner Italia arrived here one day late yesterday because of rough weather on her North Atlantic route.
    The sip, with 811 passengers from Hamburg, was buffeted by storms on most of the twelve-day crossing. The first storm hit just out of England, and a worse one arose south of Newfoundland last Monday.
    Capt. Paul Thormohlen, master of the Italia, told of temperatures 9 degrees below zero and hurricane-force winds. Snow fell on the vessel and froze, until she was encased in fifty tons of ice.
    A 1-year old baby, Edward Michalik, died of pneumonia aboard ship three days ago. Dr. Leo Bendendorf, chief surgeon aboard the ship, said he had administered oxygen, penicillin and other drugs. He added that the illlness had bee reported too late. A 9-year-ol boy fell twenty-seven feet through an open hatch and broke five small bones in his right foot. He had been playing in an eare out of bounds to passengers. The surgeon also successfully operated in Willy Frigge, the Italia’s bar steward who was stricken with acute appendicitis.”

    There was more that happened during voyage not reported in the New York Times, but witnessed by 8-year old me and my family:
    1) A fire broke out on board late one night. Alarms woke everyone and told them to make their way up onto the decks. In order to reduce the wind fanning the flames the ship made a sharp turn in another direction, I remember slipping around on deck and clinging for my life to icy railings.
    2) My Mom and sister came down with MUMPS a few days into the voyage (which they caught from me – I had it two weeks before boarding the Italia). They were afraid of being put off at Ellis Island and spent the rest of the voyage hiding in the cabin.
    3) My parents had stowed their entire fortune of $200 in one of our doll’s heads. The money was stolen aboard. They thought it must have been the steward, but did not report the theft to avoid anyone noticing the chubby MUMPS cheeks.

  12. My family and I returned fro my Dad’s posting in Zweibrucken Germany with the RCAF in March 1953 when I was 9 years old. We boarded in Southampton and sailed to Halifax. We were bringing our ’55 VW 21 window bus back with us from Germany but it was too big to fit in the hold. As a result it was spray coated in a thick wax coating and was chained down on the deck during the passage and hoisted down to the dock once we arrived. I guess they then removed the coating somehow and we then drove to Camp Borden my father’s next posting.
    As kids we explored as much of the ship as we could get to and I remember finding our way to the swimming pool somewhere in the bowels of the ship. Unfortunately the crossing was so rough that it was out of bounds as the water was sloshing too badly. Of the 4 of us, all but my sister were seasick every day. I remember watching a man go out onto the poop deck to take pictures and coming back through the door shortly afterwards soaked to the skin.
    When we were on deck the ocean surface was sometimes well above us and at other times well below as we pounded through the waves.

  13. Hey am I ever surprised to find this BLOG! WOW. What a blessing. Let me tell you my story too.
    Today marks the 68th anniversary of our Sea Adventure from Cuxhaven to NY Harbor on NOVEMBER 14, 1953. I had just turned 9 on October 6. I found out later this is the same day the first Germans
    arrived in the USA from Krefeld . .so now it’s German American Day! My Vati, Johannes Proehl arrived in April 1953, but he flew over first to my aunt, his sister. Dad was a master Optician working on prisms. First at Zeiss Jena, then Oberkochen, then in CT at Perkin Elmer. . He passed in July 1997 here in Florida.. Mutti, my Mom, my sister who just turned 5 and myself were booked on the Italia. We were on that ship 11 days. Doing the math for some reason puts us on that ship about November 3, 1953. However we left our baracks in Oberkochen end of October, earlier.
    We took a local train with wooden seats in the late evening as it was already dark. Our ship was not on location so they shipped us over to an Island I think called Helgoland. There were some military baracks and very large mess halls. Here we were held for three whole days totally bored with nothing to do. Other passengers also stayed in different baracks with bunk beds. Since we also lived in baracks in Oberkochen/Wuertt that were built for soldiers, after we escaped from East Germany, (1947) this seemed so oddly familiar but uncomfortably scary. We walked on this moon landscape, nothing much growing in November. I guess they finally shipped us over to the mainland . .There was a huge whale in display they had captured . .it was displayed behind large tent made of fabrics in the middle of town somewhere. Mutti loved adventure so she paid admission . .we went in to see it. That was my first experience to see this large whale with hair all over his jaws . . and was it ever smelly! Later, we were situated in our cabins way at the bottom floor. I don’t know what it cost but we did have a round porthole window to watch the weather/waves .Boy was it boring. We had English lessons at one time. One lady was American and her small daughter was forever misbehaving. There was a children’s playroom that was totally absurd for me . .This American girl was about 3 or 4, was able to get hold of a fountain pen and squirted the ink all over the place on the tables and clothing, and hands, face. Some kids and I played hide and seek on the ship. We found paper cups that folded apart. . we took them from the drinking fountains, pulled them apart like plates, laughing. until a crew man scolded us to stop this bad behavior … many people got sick but I was fine, wondering why they were all vomiting and sitting on lounge chairs. The breakfasts were strange cold milk and cereal. The crew thought it was fun to give us this food . I hated cold food. The chairs were all nailed to the floors so I had to sit far away from the table. and my feet didn’t reach the floor either . .and all the adults chatting while we were just trying to get some food. . the boat shook a lot . .
    One fine early morning, there was a fire on board somewhere. There was an alarm, and everyone went out on deck. I remember clearly seeing men in white underwear and thinking why they didn’t get dressed? I looked at the waves thinking I could not swim but it didn’t even register that nobody, probably, would have survived that icy water anyway. . .
    My mom had a Zeiss camera she brought with us so we had some photos . .she bought us a little marine doll as my Vati was in the marines so we could think of him. When we landed in NYC my aunt, Dad’s sister came to pick us up . .we were not humiliated to enter through Ellis Island . .My aunt had come to US in the 20s with her own aunt and uncle . .she was a hairdresser at Gimbles, had no children, but a big shepherd dog named Poncho, was married to a Chef, who worked on large ships . He left that job. In those days you could just go to an office and present a certain amount and you were a resident or citizen . .They had a pretty good income I gathered, from the nice brick house they had in Flushing where both are now buried.
    We celebrated Thanksgiving in that house in Flushing NY, prepared by Uncle Carl the chef, fabulous new tastes, foods, desert. We lived in Flushing until 1958, an Apt on 35th Avenue. I attended PS 23 and PS 20 and Jr high 185 . .My brother was born in Flushing in August 1954 the first American! Haha!
    .
    Later my grandmother, Dad’s mother, was permitted to leave East Germany , she came for a visit Flushing 2 years only. My parents then bought a house in Norwalk CT . .where we lived over 30 years. Now both parents are gone. My sister and I attended boarding school 2 -3 years in Austria. That was the same time my OMA came from Schmoelln where we were all born, to care for Johnny my brother. We did not see her anymore. In boarding school I met 3 adopted German girls that lived in California where I attended college in 1963 and lived there ever since. if anyone has photos of Italia also I can send some ship photos . we only have about 5 or 6 . .I wished there was a passenger list. So I’ll research maybe that is possible. Thanks for listening.
    Heidi actually Heidemarie .
    My Mutti named me after a famous actress as I was alone with her when I was born. I saw my Vati only when I was 3 years old, as he was a prisoner by the French in Morocco three years . but they never complained and we had a good life, safe and many good German, European friends.. BLESSINGS TO ALL OF YOU READING this. Thanks so much. Heidi.

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